By Katharine S. B. Keats-Rohan
Prosopon: Newsletter of the Unit of Prosopographical Research, Issue 2 (1995)
Introduction: A lot of ink has flowed on the subject, but there can be no doubt that the ‘mysterious’ Countess Lucy of Chester was William Malet’s thrice-married granddaughter, the daughter of Robert Malet’s sister and Turold the Sheriff of Lincoln (dead by 1079). The suggestion was first made by R. Kirk in 1888. As N. Sumner has more recently observed: ‘This account has the merit of explaining why the lordship of Spalding and other places in Lincolnshire were held after Ivo’s death not by Beatrice, his direct heir and the daughter of his marriage to Lucy, but by the later husbands of Lucy, Roger fitz Gerold and Ranulph Meschines.’ It is clear from her charters that Lucy was an heiress; as was to be expected, her estates passed to the sons of her second and third marriages. Kirk’s work was based upon conjecture, and contained a number of errors. The question of Lucy’s parentage has therefore remained open. Nevertheless, there is proof that Kirk was right.